From Venezuela to Vienna - A star is born!

Artistic Director Jacob Soelberg at the Musikverein for Rafael Payare's debut with the Vienna Philharmonic

Rafael Payare, winner of the Malko Competition 2012, had a very special debut this weekend conducting the Vienna Philharmonic in works of Strauss, Maazel and Tchaikovsky. Payare was invited to replace the late Maestro Lorin Maazel's concerts with the world leading orchestra – an honor he dedicatedly accepted, and delivered with bravour to standing ovations at the Musikverein.

A graduate of the celebrated El Sistema in Venezuela, Payare began his formal conducting studies in 2004 with José Antonio Abreu and has conducted all the major orchestras in Venezuela, including the Simón Bolívar Orchestra, both in Caracas and in Toronto as part of their 2009 Canadian tour.

As an assistant conductor, he has worked under Gustavo Dudamel, among other projects the staged production of Marriage of Figaro with the LA Philharmonic. He also served as assistant conductor to the late Claudio Abbado for his performance of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony with the Simón Bolívar Orchestra. After winning the Malko Competition in 2012, Payare became a mentee of Lorin Maazel and was personally invited to conduct at the Castleton Festival in Washington DC. Later the same year in September, Daniel Barenboim personally invited him to assist for his production of Siegfried at the Berlin Staatsoper.

It has been quite an exciting journey from Venezuela to Vienna. We are very proud to see this Malko Competition winner rise among the stars! Congratulations to Rafael Payare!